April 2019 – Five Fundamental Facts about the Federal Indian Day School Settlement

Prepared by: the Indian Day School Class Counsel, Gowling WLG

The 60 days between the public sharing of the settlement agreement and the approval hearings is a very important time for discussion about the terms of the settlement.  A number of questions have been raised over the past two weeks, and that is exactly how this process is supposed to work. People have the right to look closely at the settlement and raise concerns.  They also have the right to clear and factual information. To that end, here are the five fundamental facts of the settlement that people should know. 

The Federal Indian Day School Settlement was designed to:

  1. Meet the needs of an aging population:  Indian Day School survivors are getting older; we lose as many as 2,000 survivors each year.  That means that with every year of delay, thousands of people lose the opportunity to have their harm acknowledged.  The IDS process is specifically designed to provide expedited payment to those who are eligible.
  2. Be inclusive and accessible:  The settlement includes ALL individuals who attended a Federal Indian Day School, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. It’s important for people to understand that the baseline harm for claims is such that nearly everyone who is eligible for the settlement will be eligible for at least “level 1” compensation ($10,000).
  3. Treat Class Members with dignity and respect:  The IDS process is specifically designed to avoid the lengthy and often re-traumatizing legal process of evidence collection, cross-examination and a confrontational hearing process. Instead, the IDS claims process is designed to be simple, culturally sensitive, non-adversarial, and user-friendly. There are minimal verification requirements, and the documentation people may be asked to provide (for example, photos or personal correspondence) won’t require a difficult process or third-party to obtain.
  4. Respond to new information:  The “Schedule K” list, which currently contains over 700 federally-run Indian Day Schools is an evolving list.  There is a built-in process to update it as needed.  Anyone who believes there should be a school added to the list can contact Class Counsel.  They will be asked to provide whatever information they can about the schools (for example, school photos or class pictures). Class Counsel will then provide this information to Canada, who has independent researchers dedicated to investigating these schools.  As soon as a new federally-run school is verified, it is added to the list.
  5. Provide direct support to Class Members and keep them informed:  Class Counsel is committed to providing as much support to Class Members as they need throughout this process.  We have visited dozens of communities across the country, met with community leaders and listened carefully to the experiences of community members In person, through our call centre, our offices across Canada, and through our ongoing community presentations – we will remain accessible and available to Class Members, to help in any way they need (including in regard to documentation), no matter where they live. Individual members of our team, including our lead counsel, have mental health and wellness training and provide referrals to culturally appropriate mental health services as needed. We do this work at no cost at all to Class Members.